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No matter where you went, Brendan mused, the gin was always bad.
It had been a few years since the musician had first tasted the spirit, soon after his coming-of-age party during a stay on Betadina Gamma, and he’d fallen in love with it. His favourite drink was a tall tumbler of gin with three hyper-frozen ice cubes, a thin wedge of lemon and a thinner spike of raganol – an alcohol supplement that added a veiled, sweet tinge to any inebriating beverage. Every time he’d gone off on concert he’d ordered this drink from the bar of whichever hotel he was staying in at the time.
However, no matter how hard he tried, he’d never found a glass of gin with the similar consistency and taste to the first one he’d had. Some had come close, but the majority now tasted to him rather bland and flavourless. He’d even gone back to that bar on Betadina, asking for the same barman who’d served him those years ago, but still had not found it.
This gin, courtesy of a dingy bar on the intergalactic bazaar known as Hub 91, was another mediocre example, running down his throat without even so much as a hint of fire. He had half a mind to put the glass down and order the strongest brandy the barman had on him, but then decided he only had half a mind to really do anything; the alcohol, whilst lacklustre in taste, had no less gone straight to his brain and motor functions. He’d intentionally foregone eating dinner beforehand, and now his empty stomach was swimming with spirit.
He didn’t care that he had malnourished himself intentionally, or that he was getting himself drunk with no regard for his safety or where he was going to go afterwards. As far as he was concerned he was done anyway; his purpose had been snatched from under his feet. He’d been left behind by the agency that had grown and nurtured him from a very young age, tossed aside as detritus in favour of something newer. His parents were probably being informed of his disownment right now, Kendall sitting in front of them with a bulgy cigar that dropped ash onto the Maulens’ fine rugs. Brendan had been waiting for them to call and vent their disappointment in him sometime soon.
That last thought made Brendan feel even more despondent; he signalled the barman, deciding to throw his hesitation aside for a moment. “Glass of brandy, best you’ve got.”
The barman viewed Brendan with a surprised expression as he set down the glass he’d been cleaning. “You sure you want the best? Coz it’ll cost you.”
Struggling to suppress the drowsiness and disorientation that he was feeling, Brendan lifted his head and fixed the barman with a steely glare. “I’ve got the money. Now get me the damn brandy.”
Visibly offended, the barman retreated behind the counter and returned with a tall bottle of dark amber liquid. He poured out a small glass and began to pour but was stopped when Brendan reached out, surprisingly coordinated for a moment, and snatched the bottle away from him. Before the barman could protest Brendan slapped a handful of currency on the counter, satiating the barman’s qualms. He closed his mouth and took the money away.
Brendan’s head felt incredibly dizzy as the first mouthful of brandy blazed its way down his throat. He coughed as the liquid ran its course, feeling the fire spread through him like the roots of a tree into fallow ground. His legs became wooden, ready to snap in half at any moment, and his chest held a hidden fire behind his ribcage.
The brandy was good.
He turned to look at the bar’s exit, leading into the rest of the bustle that was Hub 91. The intergalactic bazaar was one of many on the route between Verdania and the other colonised worlds, and just so happened to be one of the cleanest. Crime here was minimal, due to the large presence of security officers.
Security…they could give me a fight.
In the back of his mind, as he slowly and drunkenly stood from his seat at the bar, Brendan knew this was a bad idea. He knew that had he been completely sober he would have never considered something like this. If things had been normal, and this were a sadness brought on by something far more minor than losing his career, he would’ve simply had a few drinks at home and then fallen asleep – possibly after breaking whatever glass objects were nearby to him.
This, however, was not normal. He was very, very drunk and very, very depressed, and in his current mood neither made for a particular desirable combination. Irrational thoughts filled his mind as he stumbled from the bar, still clutching the bottle of brandy as it sloshed its contents sloppily over his hands and shirt, dribbling onto the floor in drips and drabs.
Outside the bar there were three security officers standing near one of the Hub’s artificial light sources, smoking cigarettes and laughing jovially. Brendan lumbered towards them as if they pulled him with a magnet, and as they turned to face him, their smiles fading into exasperated looks at the prospect of doing some actual work, the musician had only one thought running through his head.
One of the nearer officers quirked an eyebrow after taking a long drag on his cigarette. “Can I help you, sir?”
In response, Brendan took a very large swill from the bottle and made a face as it went down. He then shifted the bottle into a grip on its neck before slamming it sideways into the officer’s face. The bottle shattered, lacerating the man’s cheek and slicing into his right eye like a knife through hot butter. A small fragment of dusted glass embedded itself in his right temple, with blood edging around the seams of the wound.
The officer screamed and fell sideways, clutching at his face and ruined eye. The other two guards immediately reacted, one retrieving a gun from his holster and another procuring a stun baton. The gun was aimed at Brendan’s head as the stun baton struck him full in the face, between the eyes.
Numbness took over all other feelings as the musician crumpled, unable to cry out or scream in protest. His mind felt sluggish, unable to fully comprehend what was going on. He could’ve sworn he heard other voices shouting, heard fists making contact on skin, and was dimly aware of someone picking him up.
A thin string of drool edged its way down Brendan’s lip as he finally, and mercifully, fell into full unconscious.